Magliaro C., Callara A. L., Vanello N., Ahluwalia A: "A Manual Segmentation Tool for Three-Dimensional Neuron Datasets", Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, vol. 11, pp. 36, May 2017

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To date, automated or semi-automated software and algorithms for segmentation of neurons from three-dimensional imaging datasets have had limited success. The gold standard for neural segmentation is considered to be the manual isolation performed by an expert. To facilitate the manual isolation of complex objects from image stacks, such as neurons in their native arrangement within the brain, a new Manual Segmentation Tool (ManSegTool) has been developed. ManSegTool allows user to load an image stack, scroll down the images and to manually draw the structures of interest stack-by-stack. Users can eliminate unwanted regions or splitting structures (i.e. branches from different neurons that are too close each other, but, to the experienced eye, clearly belong to a unique cell), to view the object in 3D and save the results obtained. The tool can be used for both testing the performance of a single-neuron segmentation algorithm or to extract complex objects, where the available automated methods still fail. Here we describe the software’s main features and then show an example of how ManSegTool can be used to segment neurons acquired using a confocal microscope. In particular, expert neuroscientists were asked to segment different neurons from which morphometric variables were subsequently extracted as a benchmark for precision. In addition, a literature-defined index for evaluating the goodness of segmentation was used as a benchmark for accuracy. Neocortical layer axons from a DIADEM challenge dataset were also segmented with ManSegTool and compared with the manual “gold-standard” generated for the competition.